By: Emma Federkeil, Point Park News Service:
Morgan Meeder, learned first hand just how sweet pit bulls could be when she adopted Dozer, a two-year-old pit bull in 2015.
“I feel like dogs almost choose you. I definitely think that he chose us. Sometimes they find you and you get this incredible connection and that would have never happened had I not gave this goofy dog a chance,” Meeder, 26, of Shaler, said.
Meeder, an independent dog foster, rescued Dozer from her friend, Stephanie Smetanick, 27, of Sarver. Smetanick said she received a message about a dog in need of rescue from an abusive owner that was threatening to kill the dog.
“I went and picked him up, he jumped into my car and started licking my face. He was just a total lover,” Smetanick said.
Smetanick decided to foster Dozer for a short time until she could find him a more stable situation.
“I posted some videos of him on Facebook and Morgan mentioned she was interested in fostering him,” Smetanick said.
During Smetanick’s time fostering Dozer, it was discovered that he was a reactive dog, meaning he didn’t trust most men and was protective towards females.
“Any time that he was in the presence of a man he was a little bit uneasy and I think that’s because of where he came from. I guess the woman that owned him, would use him as protection and so he was used to that kind of lifestyle,” Meeder said.
Meeder and her boyfriend, Jesse Schultz, decided to adopt him and sent him to Canine Healing, a training facility in Maryland where Dozer spent a month in training and came back a new dog, free from his aggressive tendencies.
“Once I realized what kind of dog I had in my possession, I knew for him to be the best pit bull, he needed more help than all of us could give him,” Meeder said.
Schultz, 30, of Glenshaw, admitted that he was once against the pit bull breed because he thought they were untrustworthy, aggressive dogs.
In common with Meeder, Smetanick has been a foster parent to several dogs in the past. She is also a volunteer at local non-profit, The Proper Pit Bull, where she works as a co-manager of their foster and adoption team.
“We do everything from reviewing applications from adopters to evaluating dogs for when we are considering pulling them from a shelter or bad situation and bring them into the program,” Smetanick said.
The Proper Pit Bull organization works to educate and advocate for the pit bull breed. They encourage pit bull rescue by building community relationships, education, and training options for those in need.
Vanessa Wheeler, 33, of Braddock Hills, is also a foster parent for The Proper Pit Bull and doubles as their legislation manager.
“Last year, we spoke with local legislators on puppy mills on an ordinance to ban puppy mills. So anytime there are any new bills being introduced, they’ll reach out to us and we’ll put together a little spiel,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler is currently housing four dogs, three of her own, and The Proper Pit Bull’s current adoptee, Belle.
“Belle is nine and a half but you wouldn’t be able to tell. She is equal parts of energy as a couch potato. We’re really pushing for her to get a home. She deserves her own family,” Wheeler said.
The Proper Pit Bull is always welcome to any new volunteers, especially potential fosters.
“If people considered fostering, it’s immensely helpful because they are saving that dog and a second dog because that cage space just opened for a new dog to be put in there. It’s very rewarding,” Wheeler said.
Smetanick also encourages others to foster and said that the payoff is always well worth the time and energy you put into the foster dog.